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Remote Visualization Streamlines Oil & Gas Exploration and Production



To better understand what lies beneath the earth’s surface and determine the best ways to extract it, energy companies are investing heavily in HPC and remote visualization.  

In the age of Big Data, many companies are collecting tremendous volumes of information on a daily basis. However, without the right tools to access, process, and analyze it, some are finding themselves data rich but insight poor.

This can easily become the case in the energy, oil and gas industry, which is considered to be one of the most data-intensive sectors that exists today. Massive amounts of data flowing in from sensor-enabled machinery, geological models, and seismic software platforms are inundating companies with more data than they can handle, and this is presenting complex challenges for companies that are not well-equipped to handle the data deluge.

A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that U.S. horizontal well drilling costs now average between $1.8 million and $2.6 million per well, and drilling only represents 30-40 percent of the total cost to develop a new well. Drilling remains one of the most complex and expensive endeavors in the industry, and it’s never been more vital for companies to properly appraise new sites, as well as ensure that newly tapped wells will produce.

In an effort to better understand what lies beneath the earth’s subsurface and determine the best ways to extract it, energy companies are investing heavily in advanced tools like high performance computing (HPC), seismic processing and imaging software, and remote visualization.  

The challenge is that many energy companies are still operating on legacy computing infrastructures, which often lack the ability to leverage the most innovative HPC solutions available today. Big Data analytics and large-scale simulation models require more processing power and greater amounts of storage than most infrastructures are prepared to handle, and as a result many companies are struggling to process data at speeds which enable data-driven decision-making.

 Remote visualization is one segment of HPC that is a natural fit for the energy industry. Remote visualization, which allows critical business information to be hosted in the data center while a copy is accessed and edited by a remote desktop, allows geographically dispersed RV_O&G_blog.jpgexploration teams to produce high-quality images and 3D visualizations regardless of their location. This helps geoscientists and engineers more rapidly interpret subsurface data, study fluid dynamics, and accelerate seismic and reservoir simulation.

Remote visualization tools are proven to help streamline oil and gas exploration and production in a number of ways:

  • Discover untapped reserves – Remote visualization allows individuals or teams to quickly interpret data from seismic surveys and produce high-quality 3D images that help them locate new deposits.
  • Appraise sites with less exploratory drilling – Greater amounts of data and better HPC tools to process it are allowing geoscientists to gain a more accurate understanding of the fluids and materials that lie within a prospective site, enhancing predictive capabilities as well as oil recovery rates.
  • Enhance collaboration and productivity – Real-time synchronization allows multiple users and geographically-separated teams to work with the same models and images, increasing communication flow and team collaboration.

New computing technologies are one of the primary reasons why drilling costs are continuing to gradually decrease, and as the costs to develop new wells declines, the profitability of exploration and production activities will grow. Energy companies that invest in HPC technologies will be positioned to better compete and succeed in a complex, data-intensive market.  

Remote visualization and other HPC tools can accelerate decision-making and time-to-value in time-critical interpretation and drilling environments – something which is crucial in an industry where time is money.

Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Mannel for further updates about the HPC energy solutions that are transforming the industry.

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About the Author


As the Vice President and General Manager of HPC and AI Segment Solutions in the Data Center Infrastructure Group, I lead worldwide business and portfolio strategy and execution for the fastest growing market segments in HPE’s Data Center Infrastructure Group which includes the recent SGI acquisition and the HPE Apollo portfolio.

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